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Off Menu: Just BE Kitchen

Off Menu: Just BE Kitchen


The menu at Just BE Kitchen is filled with comfort food like French Toast Sliders, Chicken and Dumplings, and Shepherd’s Pie – all that just so happen to be gluten-free. That last part isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you take a bite of the warm, nourishing food, and that’s just how founder Jennifer Peters wanted it.

Peters doesn’t come from an intense background of strict food rules or a crunchy all-natural family, she is just a former athlete who found a way to increase her performance by eating anti-inflammatory foods. She was tired of the only ‘healthy’ options when eating out being a huge piece of protein or an un-satiating smoothie bowl. This led her to begin experimenting in the kitchen with how she could solve her own problem.

“It was really out of a desire for me to have healthy, nutritious, anti-inflammatory food that wasn’t about lack and sacrifice,” she said.

After creating a gluten-free granola recipe that she and her friends loved, she began selling at farmers markets. Gaining in popularity and slowly expanding her menu, she opened her first restaurant in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood in 2017. Now Colorado’s largest gluten-free restaurant group, she has a second location in Denver Tech Center and more recently, a third location in Boulder as of December 2023.

I sat down with Peters, and her executive chef Jude Romero, on Saturday afternoon after tasting some of their most popular items. Admittedly, a restaurant with inspirational quotes on the walls and dishes named after states of well-being wasn’t automatically appealing to me, but by the end of talking to the pair I came around.

They don’t just claim to care about well-being, they live it. Romero joined the team about five months ago after struggling with addiction for many years. He was drawn to Just BE Kitchen, not because of the food, but because of what it stands for.

“I have no allergies, I’ve never had to deal with any of that, and so it was actually very interesting not necessarily for the food, but for the concept itself,” Romero said. “For basically being a restaurant that wanted to be in the wellness field and serve more than just allergen-free food – actually serve good food and actually have a purpose behind it.”

With names like Daring, Bright, and Fulfilled, each dish serves to make people more mindful about their food choices. This concept is mirrored on the walls of the restaurant, which sports quotes hand-painted on canvases..

Peters hopes to become “the Chipotle of gluten-free” with plans to open 10 more locations in the next five years – making this way of intentional eating easily accessible to wide audiences.

“It’s great to have someone like Jude who hasn’t necessarily historically eaten healthy and who has come into it as an interest because of personal changes in his life because he’s great to test it.” Peters said.

She said that not only has having someone experienced in large-scale food production been an asset to the team, so is having someone who has, in the past, gone to McDonalds for breakfast daily. This ensures that all of the dishes that make it to the menu appeal to the largest audience possible.

This mindset dictates what items are on the menu each season. Thinking about what people crave seasonally and how they can put the most satisfying, satiating things on the menu is central to Peters and Romero’s process.

“I don’t like to do things that are just like ‘oh that’s good for gluten-free,” Peters said. “We don’t have donuts on the menu and will never have donuts because we don’t have a fryer. And in my opinion, a baked gluten-free donut is like ‘eh it’s good for a gluten-free donut’ not like ‘its f-ing good.”

Peters wants everything on the menu to be “f-ing good,” which is why she is constantly testing new ingredients and combinations to make the best dishes possible.

“How can we take that traditional component and how can we convert it to [Just BE Kitchen] style?” Peters said. “If we can do it and execute it to where people wouldn’t know the difference that it was gluten-free or not, cool.”

With plans to expand their hours in the coming months, broaden their offerings to include wellness events, and introduce a small “Mindful Market” retail section of the Boulder store, Peters and her team aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So leave your preconceived notions at the door and open your mind to mindful eating as easily accessible as a Chipotle bowl – with none of the consequences of that ‘extra sour cream please.’



Katie Mackinnon
Katie MacKinnon is a writer striving to build connection through storytelling. She specializes in environmental reporting, always looking to find the human angle and the untold story. She has a passion for local food systems, sustainable agriculture, and environmental justice. When not writing, she can be found reading, sewing, or spending time in the outdoors.

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